The Club Hotel & Spa, Jersey
A short plane ride, yet a world away
It may not be far-flung; it may not be exotic, but I’ve got a lot of love for Jersey – after all, they speak English, you can use the money that’s in your purse and, being that bit nearer to France, it’s generally warm and sunny. And that’s without mentioning the beautiful beaches and the amazing food akin to our own North Norfolk coast. You don’t even need to show your passport at security (although you do need some form of ID).
The best part is that you can now fly direct from Norwich with a snappy journey time of 45 mins (hardly time to knock a cup of coffee back). Word of warning though: prices with Flybe get super silly so make sure you book waaaay in advance.
I was clearly wearing my ‘I HEART JERSEY’ badge when The Club Hotel + Spa in St. Helier invited me to stay for Muddy, and happily jumped on a plane (from Luton as it happens – I’ve never been very good at booking in advance) – landing just in time for cocktails. This is THE best time to arrive. Anywhere. Trust me.
Rarely do you see a roof terrace in a hotel the size of The Club (it’s not boutique but it’s not big either), let alone a roof terrace with a Champagne Bar, but then this is a five-star/4 Rosette hotel – and this is Jersey… There’s even deckchairs to sink into.
I’m warmly greeted at reception, with its white orchids, bright canvas paintings and glass tables, and quickly shown around: spa to the right, Michelin-star restaurant to the left and honestly bar (honestly!) leading to roof terrace straight ahead. You’ve got to applaud them for prioritising the good stuff.
There are five room types – including family rooms with two bedrooms and adjoining walls – each similarly decorated in warm russet reds, rich creams and ‘muddy puddle’ walls (which I personally have in my house and love). Carpets are plush; curtains are thick and the fridge has booze in it – a rarity in England these days!
All are spacious and cosy, with king-size beds, squashy armchairs and desks for working (or in my case, slapping on make-up before an evening out!).
Bathrooms tell the tale of a massive order of expensive marble from somewhere hip and trendy (Italy?) – the majority boasting tubs big enough to sink into after a very ‘stressful’ day on the beach! Products are Elemis; showers hot and powerful.
Despite being a Michelin-star restaurant, hotel guests can frequent Bohemia come evening for a drink and some bar food – even four-year olds are welcome. It’s late but we traipse downstairs for a cocktail (me) and a portion of chips (her/both of us!).
Rather head to the honesty bar? Turn right at reception and you’ll find a fridge full of wine and beer, bottle openers, glasses, a notepad to mark down what you’ve drunk (people in Jersey don’t generally lock their houses or car doors, so this is no skin off their noses) and a pile of games and books. Choose a plush sofa and settle down – there’s no rush: it’s open from 9pm until a very respectable 7am!
Brief mention here about the Club Spa (more on which in a separate post) – it may be compact and bijou but it packs a punch, with its Rasul mud chamber, indoor salt water pool with bubble jets, salt cabin and herbal steam room. There’s also a nail bar and a treatment suite. Guests are able to use the pool and thermal facilities even if they aren’t having a treatment – this isn’t the case at a lot of hotels.
The best part is the ivy-clad mini heated pool with its waterfall feature and handful of loungers. I’d love to pretend the stylish female in the pic below is me, but who am I kidding?
And so to lunch – and a Michelin star one at that. Don’t be put off by the grand label though: while there are three different six-course taster menus available (including one dedicated to the sea), there’s also a very reasonable two-courses for £49 lunch, as well as several deals where you can lunch/spa (or spa/lunch) even if you aren’t staying at the hotel.
Décor is very different to the rest of the hotel – the walls on the way down to Bohemia are clad in a montage of vintage images. Check out the ceiling light too – kitsch? Yup. Clever? Absolutely.
I opt for the two-course menu, diving straight into mains so that I can have dessert. My charming waiter nearly gets a hug when he tells my daughter that he will happily ask the chef to make her a cheese sandwich. “With crisps pleeeeease,” she says. “Of course miss,” he replies. Bless him!
A rustic bag filled with homemade bread makes its way onto our table – I pick it up and realise that it has heated pebbles in the bottom to keep the bread warm (genius!). I love the seaweed butter nicely presented on a marble slab, too.
Head chef Steve Smith creates a range of beautifully-presented, tasty dishes using local produce – even with just three mains and three desserts to choose from on my particular menu, I’m struggling to decide.
In the end, the lamb loin and braised neck with peas and roscoff onion wins for my main course: the lamb is perfectly pink and tender, while the peas are sweet; the onions giving a nice amount of acidity and crunch.
My dessert is strawberry cheesecake with Champagne and basil oil, and a strawberry shard – an odd combination but one that works a charm; the basil oil cutting through the sweetness perfectly. Then I spot the best cheese trolley I have ever seen: 25 cheeses on the top layer (I got up and counted, honest gov); several bottles of port, plus crackers and cheese knives on the bottom. I’m instantly reminded of 1970s dessert trolleys, black forest gateau and all, and go warm and nostalgic inside. Next time, next time…
Coffee comes with a box of chocolates – read the little menu and select one to munch on while sipping away. It’s a nice touch, particularly when our waiter goes the extra mile and not only remembers my daughter’s name but encourages her to try one of each, “just to see if they’re OK,” he says with a wink. Seriously, can I take this man home?!
Bohemia also does a gorgeous afternoon tea, which you can enjoy overlooking the pool.
Breakfast is served in the hotel’s main restaurant – choose a seat downstairs and you’ll have a good view of the pool (and – if you’re lucky – that lovely lady in white). I choose the Jersey breakfast (essentially a fry up with Jersey sausages, fried bread – yes fried bread – poached egg, tomato, mushrooms, beans and black pudding). It’s fabulous and sets me up nicely for the flight home.
All good things have to come to an end, as they say, but now that I can fly direct from Norwich Airport (that’s if I get my butt into gear a little earlier), I’ll be returning to try that cheese board. In the meantime, thanks Club Hotel & Spa Jersey – it’s been swell.
The Club Hotel & Spa, St. Helier, Jersey. clubjersey.com